Lyndal Mellefont is a Tassie-based globetrotter who discovered horses at the age of three and learned to ride together with her mum. We were honoured to hear some of her beautiful childhood memories of this journey with her mum and their beloved horses. Lyndal was a self-described ‘lurker’ on the Globetrotting website until she finally bit the bullet and booked herself a saddle seat on the Kimberley Ride this June. And now she has her sights set on the Glenorchy Back Country Ride in November!
What is your day job?
Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Tasmania
How have horses influenced or changed your life?
The biggest influence horses have had for me was learning to ride with my Mum. I think my Mum would say the biggest influence/benefit was delayed onset of paying the opposite sex any attention for decades!!!
What is your earliest memory of horses?
This is a shared memory from my Mum. When I was three, my parents took me to the Gold Coast Show and we walked past the obligatory pony ride. My Mum asked if I wanted to get on and I flat out refused. She tried to change my mind but I was adamant that I didn’t want to. Some kind of instinct made her put me on the pony, tears and wailing and all… and the rest is history. Once I was on there I wouldn’t get off. They paid the poor man to walk me around for literally hours. I still wouldn’t get off even when it started pouring with rain. I think my Mum saw that something in me changed and she chose to nurture that by sharing her own childhood dream of learning to ride. We both took riding lessons together in Queensland and both our horses travelled with us down to Tasmania. We had many years of pony club, showing, pony club games and trail riding together. We experienced the love of horses every day until our horses passed away. I am so privileged to have had that childhood.
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
It’s a blend of nostalgia and being in the moment. It reminds me of the best days of my childhood and an amazing shared experience and connection with Mum and my wonderful ponies. Now when I ride I’m on a shared adventure with a new horsey friend in a new landscape well away from my busy, city-bound life.
What have horses taught you the most?
That trust is earned and should never be taken for granted, and once it is achieved your life is full. You nourish your relationship with your horse in the same way you do with your loved ones.
What was your childhood pony called?
My first pony of my own was Toby. He saw me through my first day at pony club (Nerang Pony Club), my first gymkhana, my first show, my first pony club games, my first trail ride and came with me when I moved from Queensland to Tasmania. He was the most gentle little soul with the softest and most delicious nose in the world!! We all say that about our horses, don’t we? I just love this photo of my Mum, Toby and I. Early 1970s – cracking fashion!
What was your first globetrotting ride?
The Kimberley Ride (June 2018). Every day was great! I think camping at Nags Hole is a highlight for many reasons. You have two nights there, so you don’t need to roll up your swag for a day (not an onerous chore but one you are happy to avoid!), you have a sit down meal with a white tablecloth on the first night so it glamps up the experience, the waterhole there is great for swimming in and Christian’s friend Chris, who came in to sing for us, was truly delightful. His song ‘Everything in its Place’ brought a few of us to tears.
Our group was coined the ‘old girls’ or ‘old chooks’ by Christian and we were often matched up with the ‘old fellas’, Swampy, Ray and Rod. There was something just so authentic about riding with these stockmen. I absolutely loved them!
Perhaps an unexpectedly good experience was the cruise into Chamberlain gorge. Honestly I was a bit sad that we were to do this instead of more riding and the start of the cruise was a little underwhelming, as we had the luxury of riding through beautiful terrain for days beforehand. But when we hit the fish reserve I had to swallow my words… and a bit of water as I started getting spat at by the seven spotted archer fish. I was in hysterics!! What a groovy little predator! I really enjoyed feeding them and getting spat in the face. Who would have thought?!
What made you take the plunge and sign up for a globetrotting holiday?
I had been a long time lurker and kept saying I would do a ride… and then I got sucker-punched by the most effective marketing email! Something along the lines of ‘in the time it takes you to finish your morning coffee break this iconic ride will be sold out’… just the push I needed to pull the trigger and book. It was also very helpful that the ride was a year away, so I knew I would have plenty of time to get organised.
Was this Globetrotting ride celebrating or marking a significant moment/milestone/achievement in your life? And if so, would you mind sharing?
My first ride was actually prep for my 2019 milestone of turning 50. I am keen to do one of the overseas rides, possibly South America, and thought doing a local one would be a smart move to find out whether I was physically up for it and whether this truly was my kind of holiday.
What globetrotting rides have you since completed/planned/dreamed about?
Within weeks of finishing my first ride I had booked my second [the Glenorchy Back Country Ride]. At the beginning of 2018 I booked a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand, to run in the marathon (a big deal, as I normally only run half marathons). At the time of booking there were no Glenorchy rides that aligned with the dates. But a few weeks ago new dates were released, with a ride starting the Monday after my marathon. This was surely fate and an opportunity that had to be seized. I might not be able to walk after my marathon… but I can darn well sit on a horse!
What is your most memorable globetrotting moment?
It’s really very hard to pinpoint one thing. The people I met were fabulous, the country beautiful and the riding was bliss. But I think I would have to say that the moment I sat on Coco and we headed off it just felt right… I was exactly where I should be.
Why choose this type of travel? As in exploring a new country from the back of a horse?
I’m a mix of extrovert and introvert so this type of travel suits me really well. I am a part of group and get all the benefits of connections with people and place. But when I need to withdraw and centre myself I can do so by riding just off track and being in my own world of me and my horse.
Who is your favourite safari horse of all time and why?
Having only done one ride, I have to say Coco. I asked Laura from Hidden Trails how she matched horses to riders and she said that while our supplied stats on height, weight and experience drove the process, it was also useful if she had met us beforehand so she could consider personality. Well Laura, who I met for just ten minutes the day before the ride, nailed it with Coco and I. We both eat all day and trip over everything in sight. Coco was like riding a giraffe on roller skates as she was so busy eating that hoof placement wasn’t really a priority. People say I’m the same when running… and, well, generally just walking around. I’d eat all day if I could. Coco is my spirit animal!
A tip that every globetrotter should know before going on a ride…
Hit up the op shop for some long sleeved shirts, jumpers etc that you can either happily destroy on your ride or pay it forward and leave them behind for another op shop (while also creating room in your duffle if you happened to fill it up with souvenirs from your ride!)
Finish this sentence: Don’t leave home without…
-some clothes pegs in your wash bag. You can use these with the inevitable baling twine and knock up a clothesline anywhere.
-cut the thumb and forefinger out of a cheap riding glove of your dominant hand so you can use your mobile phone to take photos.
-if relying on a mobile phone as the principle form of photography, get a case with a hole so you can loop a strap through it and never drop it when taking footage of those fun river crossings.
-a bottle of spray on conditioner/detangling treatment. Riding with the wind in your hair sure creates a birds nest at the end of the day.